We are running a telephone helpline offering counselling and broader support to women in:
- 20 hostels for homeless women across London
- Two hotels in the London Borough of Camden temporarily housing rough sleepers
- Bronzefield Prison
Our three psychotherapists, Amanda, Rose and Pippa are now doing their therapy sessions by telephone. All the women have agreed to work in that way so none of their work has been interrupted. We have taken on additional referrals since the outbreak of the pandemic, as well as working with some women who have returned to Street Talk for support at this time.
Our art therapists Asta is now doing one- to one- art therapy sessions over the internet with the women and the one child in the hostel for women who have escaped from traffickers where she usually runs a group.
A lot of the calls to the helpline are from women who are hungry or who can’t get basic necessities so we are now assisting with donations of tokens for supermarkets and organising the delivery of essential items. Others are extremely isolated, locked down alone in unfamiliar accommodation or prison and we are writing letters and in some cases speaking to those women daily.
One of the most frightening places to be while we are in the grip of a pandemic must be in a prison or detention centre. In principle women should only be sent to an immigration detention centre immediately proceeding their removal from the country. Such removals are not taking place at this time due to the Coronavirus crisis, so why are the Home Office continuing to send women into these centres where they will be in even greater danger of contracting the virus?
The women who we have worked with who were held in immigration detention centres were in the UK as victims of trafficking and survivors of harrowing exploitation. We appeal to the government to stop sending extremely vulnerable women into danger.
Street Talk works in partnership with six hostels across London. All of us at Street Talk would like to thank the staff who are keeping these hostels open and providing a home for the most vulnerable at this time.
The teams in the hostels are selfless in their loyalty to the homeless, working without protective equipment and often in conditions where precautions such as social distancing simply aren’t possible. They do challenging work at the best of times. At this time, they are the unsung heroes of our city.
This is an exceptionally stressful time for the vulnerable women we work with, and with outreach services suspended across the sector, many will be forced to get through it with less support than ever.
Street Talk has always offered telephone counselling to those women who are not in a position to attend in person and we will now be extending that service. Starting from today, we are offering free telephone counselling and support to women at six hostels across London. Whether it’s to talk about the virus or any other issues that she may be facing, one of our counsellors will be available to any woman who needs us.